In the Blog

To veil or not to veil?

October 28th, 2006     by Zoe Cormier     Comments

Seeing as how everyone seems to be in the mood for some good old-fashioned political debate this weekend, I figure its time the veil controversy is mentioned on our blog.

Im sure youre all familiar with the latest events in Europe in particular, a young Mulsim teaching assistant dismissed from her job in the UK because she refused to remove her veil. UK House of Commons leader Jack Straw said he prefers it when women in his district remove their veils when they speak with him, and Tony Blair called the veil a mark of separation.

Generally when debates like these rage, I tend to defend rights of freedom of expression. I just dont think she should be forced to cross the boundaries of her beliefs against her will just because she doesn’t see the world the way we do.

But that line of thinking only takes me so far on an issue like female genital circumcision, cultural sensitivity doesnt mean jack to me, I dont think that kind of brutal assault on a womans body (anyones body ) should be tolerated in Canada.

And when it comes to the veil I cant deny that theres something about it that makes me so uncomfortable. But I dont think it has anything to do with the veil supposedly being a ‘symbol of foreignness’ or that it signifies a ‘rejection of western values.’ I just dont like not being able to see who Im talking to. When Id chat with girls wearing the niqab in my classes in university, it just felt so strange to not be able to see their faces.

I think my discomfort really just stems from my feelings about women in society any society being held to a different standard than men. Im talking about all sorts of demeaning and humiliating norms for women from the drunk freshman marching in wet T shirt contests, to the little old ladies dressed in black toiling with bad backs while their husbands sit around drinking coffee all day, to the young women who’s faces Ill never see because theyre hidden under a veil. And its important to remember that theres heated debate in the Muslim community about what the Quran really prescribes in terms of dress for women.

But although I dont like the idea of the veil, I respect womens right to wear it. I admit, however, I laughed heartily when one of my friends cracked: They should have the right to do what their told.

I want to know what our readers think of the veil debate, and about Swedens controversial integration and equality minister, Nyamko Sabuni (a Muslim woman) who has said that girls under 15 should be banned from wearing the veil, as they are below the legal age of consent. Im inclined towards her idea; I wonder if many young girls who dont want to don the veil, but do so under threat of punishment, might be glad of such a law. But Im neither Muslim, nor a teenager, and I fully admit that I cant understand what its like to be both at the same time.

What do you guys think?

Tags: body politics, in my opinion..., news flash

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